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Data Visualisation and Storytelling

“The aim of good data graphics is to display data accurately and clearly”

Howard Wainer

“How to display data badly”

Class overview

Data visualisation and data storytelling

Data Visualisation is particularly important for data professionals to be able to successfully
communicate their results via presentations or reports. Data Visualisation tools, such as Tableau software, are very powerful to visually explore big datasets and to produce effective dashboards available to peers and managers. However, small datasets also need particular attention in data visualisation. Thus, this class focus on effective data visualisation and data
storytelling techniques and tools.

Students will be able to produce data visualizations to be able to effectively communicate the results via presentations or reports. Students will be able to apply storytelling techniques but also to spot misleading practices. Students will be able to explore big datasets using Tableau Software and to prepare attractive and effective dashboards.

All support materials could be downloaded from here.


Lectures, practical assignments and a project

Lecture files

Lecture 1 - Data Visualisation

Lecture 2 - Data storytelling

Practical assignments

LAB 1 - Create clear charts with Excel (tutorial + data file)

Download the tutorial file and the data file than follow the tutorial to practice creating and tuning different types of graphs

LAB 2 - Create you visual based on the data provided

LAB 3 - Tableau software


This project can be done in a groupe on 2 to 3 students.

The goal of the project is to analyse a dataset of your choice and to communicate your results. You can find a dataset using google dataset search, UCI repository or you can choose one from Kaggle open competitions. If you have access to business data and you are allowed to work with it, you can use it for your project. You could also collect your own dataset. 

Some datasets:

You'll deliver for grading :

  1. Presentation in PDF made to communicate your results to an audience. Only the presentation support is required, there is no actual presentation. Your presentation should be self-explanatory, you do not need to provide any additional comments or explanations with it. Please, check the presentation check list below.

  2. Tableau software clear and interactive dashboard published online. The goal of this dashboard is helping a manager to monitor or to explore your data and to rapidly gain some important insights. Please, submit a screenshot of your tableau software dashboard and a link to the interactive online version. Please, check the dashboard check list below.

  3. One page professional report as you would create being professionally employed. This page should integrate one appropriately annotated clear visual made with Excel and a few paragraphs presenting your main results. This report can sum up your presentation in one visual: you can adapt one of the visuals used in your presentation to make it more suitable for a report.

Your presentation check list:

  1. It contains 1 slide presenting your topic and group member(s). 

  2. It contains at least 3 slides storytelling with data. The same chart having different focal points and annotations can be used on different slides.

  3. Charts (and slides) are clear, decluttered, contain a focal point and a message/call to an action

  4. Charts are properly annotated to highlight your point

  5. The colour palette is limited and consistent

  6. There is a logical flow between slides and the full presentation tells/proofs something to the audience.

  7. Presentation ends with the conclusion/message for the audience.

Recommended: watch "emphasize an insight" podcast (15 min) from storytelling with data and check "from showing data to data storytelling" remakes.

Your dashboard check list:

  1. It contains at least 2 different graphs. 

  2. Proper titles, context, messages or any annotations useful to understand the dashboard are added in text.

  3. It contains filters to be applied to your data by the users

  4. Dashboard is clean and decluttered, additional information is obtained by using highlights and labels

  5. The colour palette is limited and consistent

  6. Labels are informative and properly formatted

  7. Focal points are added to easily spot the most important information on the dashboard

Get inspired by the dashboards from the Big Book of Dashboards.

Please, submit your results on Moodle.

Reporting should tell stories that people will remember.

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